The three most senior directors at Cadbury have quit hours after the US food giant Kraft took control of the British confectioner.
Cadbury's chief executive, Todd Stitzer, the chairman, Roger Carr, and the finance director, Andrew Bonfield, all said yesterday that they will step down after Kraft announced that 72 per cent of the Bournville-based company's shareholders accepted its £11.7bn takeover bid.
Of the three, Mr Stitzer will walk away with the biggest pay-off of £17m, given that he has been with Cadbury for 27 years. However, the payment is likely to leave a bad taste in the mouths of some Cadbury staff, who fear job losses which the company has said are "inevitable". Kraft is thought to have identified $1.3bn of restructuring costs from the deal.
Mr Stitzer, who owns a stake in Cadbury of about £5.5m, is set to receive a year's salary of £985,000, a bonus of nearly £2m and has the right to cash in shares worth £8.6m.
Mr Carr, who earned £259,000 in fees for chairing Cadbury in 2008, will receive a pay-off of hundreds of thousands of pounds. According to Cadbury's 2008 annual report, the chairman had a shareholding worth more than £364,000.
Mr Carr, who joined the board in 2001 and was made non-executive chairman in July 2008, played a pivotal role in persuading Kraft to substantially increase its offer to 850p a share, including a special dividend of 10p.
It is unclear what sort of pay-off Mr Bonfield, who only joined Cadbury in February 2009, will receive, although there are suggestions that he has stock options.
Mr Stitzer said: "The past few months have been an intense and difficult time and I would like to thank all those who helped show the true value of Cadbury through a spirited bid defence. I will now be taking some time out with my family to consider my future options, but you can be sure my heart will always be a deep Cadbury purple."
The merged companies will have combined revenues of $50bn and operations in 160 countries.